Robert Somerville, a Canadian army veteran who fought against the Islamic State in Syria with a Kurdish militia, was reportedly stopped by immigration authorities from entering Australia. Somerville’s father, Richard, who lives in Brisbane, said his son’s visa was cancelled while he was trying to enter Australia on Monday to meet them.
Somerville was reportedly taken to a detention centre in Brisbane where he is waiting to be deported on Thursday.
“He told me he was refused because he didn’t put his Kurdish name on his paperwork,” Richard told Canada’s National Post on Tuesday. He added, “I invited Robert to come to Australia, to stay with me and get to meet his half brothers and sister.”
Somerville told immigration authorities that he fought against the Islamic state with a Kurdish militia called the YPG in 2015. He left Syria in early 2016 for Thailand and his father paid for his flight tickets to Australia from there. His visa was reportedly cancelled on the grounds of not disclosing his Kurdish name that every foreign fighter is given by the Kurdish soldiers fighting alongside them.
“The basis of the visa cancellation is at this stage unclear,” the ABC quoted Somerville’s Melbourne-based lawyer Jessie Smith as saying. “It may have political undertones and could be contestable. Mr Somerville can seek relief from the minister or apply to the High Court for an injunction staying his deportation. A team of human rights lawyers are currently examining his case.”
The Guardian reported that in 2007, Somerville joined the Canadian army and was posted in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
Richard said that someone from the Australian Broder Force called him to check whether his son intended to stay with him and if he would be financially supported during his stay. There was no further communication after that.
“If an Australian was treated this way in Canada, I would be shocked. I mean, they didn’t even call. He’s being treated like a criminal,” Richard Somerville told the ABC.